Summary Judgment

js5389's version from 2015-12-10 20:50

Summary Judgment


Question Answer
Rule 56
Rule 56(a)- Moving party can “win” on a motion for summary judgment by showing that there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact” and that he is “entitled to judgment as a matter of law”
- Note: summary judgment only takes place after discovery (despite what 56(b) says) --> “out of the box” motions are disfavored and not advantageous to anyone really
Rule 56(c)- The non-movant (contesting the summ j motion) “must support the assertion by: citing to particular parts of materials in the record,” i.e. discovery material – if he can establish a genuine issue of material fact, the motion is denied
Rule 50
Rule 12(c)


Question Answer
Burden of proofdoes not shift, remains with the party (π) who has the ultimate burden of proof on the underlying claim at trial
Burden of productionthe “intermediate” burden of “going forward” – shifts between parties
- Begins with the movant (party moving for summary judgment --> usually a ∆), asks him to establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact
- Once ∆ has met this burden of production, it shifts to the π to present evidence (56(c)) that there is a genuine issue of material fact. If π meets this burden, the case will go to trial. If π fails (the burden “shifts” back one more time to allow the ∆ to show that the evidence π presents is actually immaterial), ∆ will prevail on the summ j motion


Question Answer
100% (Adickes)moving party has burden of proof and production – basically has to disprove π’s claim altogether
- This doesn’t make sense for ∆’s since at trial they would not have to prove anything b/c π is changing the status quo ante
— — Makes sense for π’s (which is why Adickes is still good law for π’s moving for summ j) b/c π’s have the ultimate burden of proof at trial
**0% (Currie, adopted as law in Celotex)**moving party bears an initial burden equal to the burden he would have at trial – since ∆’s have no burden of proof at trial, they’re just required to ID the parts of π’s case that form the basis of the motion and informing the ct of any docs that back it up
- Allows ∆’s to peek at π’s trial package, b/c π’s now need to come out and say here’s the issue and here’s how we prove it
50% (Louis, Brennan’s Celotex dissent)movant has to show 1) affirmative evidence negating an essential part of non-movant’s claim, or 2) specifically show the court how the evidence on record doesn’t make out the case that non-movant says it does (then π is allowed to respond)
- Louis was reacting to Currie, feared that summ j would be used abusively by ∆’s trying to get an early look at π’s case – these 2 things were “protection v. strategic misuse”
- - HOWEVER, Louis’ fears were not realized due to Matsushita and Anderson b/c since π non-movants are basically forced to prep their trial packages, the ones who survive summ j have really strong cases and are ready to go --> this drives the settlement price up b/c π’s are ready to make their case and ∆’s are not
- - So ∆’s ALSO prep their trial packages, so they can show that there is no material fact conclusively to prevent π’s from meeting their intermediate burden --> so summ j ends up being a pretrial version of trial – actually inefficient and in no way abusive
- - - Cts act like factfinders!


Question Answer
Adickes v. Kress Factsπ was freedom rider who tried to sit at a lunch counter at ∆ store w/black kids; police arrested her. She sued Kress under the federal civil rights law, saying there was collusion between the store and the state (the cops) to arrest her. ∆’s presented affidavits that there was no communication between ∆ and police between the time π was in the store and her arrest; π admitted that she was not aware of any such communication. Π presented unsworn statements hearsay that one of the arresting officers was in the store when π came in.
Adickes v. Kress HoldingCt held that π survived the motion b/c ∆’s bore the burden to disclose any possibility that ∆’s and cops communicated --> b/c ∆ didn’t completely foreclose this possibility, there was a genuine question of fact as to whether the cops were in the store. A ∆ CAN ONLY SHIFT THE INTERMEDIATE BURDEN IF HE HAS SATISFIED THE BURDEN OF PROOF ON THE MOTION AS A WHOLE
Adickes v. Kress Takeaways- Issacharoff: this is an impossible std and doesn’t make any sense b/c Kress could have won on a Rule 50 motion at trial w/o producing ANY evidence --> why should ∆’s have to actively disprove π’s claims when, if they’d let it go to trial, all they’d have to do is sit there and say nothing?
- No one claims to be overturning Adickes in later decisions, but the 100% NO LONGER APPLIES when a ∆ is moving for SJ – it makes sense when a π is though, b/c under the 0% std, π’s retain 100% of the burden of proof at trial, and would therefore have a 100% burden of proof on the motion for summ j
Celotex v. Catrett FactsAsbestos case – Catrett trying to prove that Celotex’s asbestos made her husband sick. Under Adickes, in order to succeed on a summ j motion, Celotex would have to affirmatively prove that under no set of circumstances could Mr. Cat have ever been exposed to Celotex asbestos, which would be impossible.
Celotex v. Catrett HoldingRehnquist’s plurality said that in order to shift the burden of production, all a movant had to do was inform the district court of the basis for its motion, and identify those portions of π’s evidence that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex v. Catrett ConcurrencePlurality became controlling law by Justice White “concurring with the opinion and judgment” of Rehnquist, even though his reasoning sounded like Brennan’s argument: “It is not enough to move for summary judgment w/o supporting the motion in any way or with a conclusory assertion…[i]t is the ∆’s task to negate, if he can, the claimed basis for the suit” [this is the 50% std!]
Celotex v. Catrett DissentBrennan said this created too low a threshold and had the potential for abuse (50% std) from ∆’s seeking a strategic advantage (the difference was that under a directed verdict, if ∆ failed, ∆ just had to move on in the trial, but here, ∆ could adjust its case prior to trial based on what π revealed)
Celotex v. Catrett Takeaway“the significance of Celotex lies in the Court’s relieving ∆’s, in their customary posture as the party moving for summary judgment, of any significant burden of production to establish initially the absence of material issues of fact in dispute
Matsuhita FactsBoth parties offered expert evidence, ct decided that Zenith’s experts were offering an implausible theory, and on that basis granted Matsushita’s motion for summary judgment!
Matsuhita HoldingCt said Zenith needed to come forward with “‘more persuasive evidence to support their claim that would otherwise be necessary’ b/c ‘the claim was one that simply makes no economic sense’”
Matsuhita Takeaways- This was major, b/c prior to this dueling expert testimony de facto established an issue of fact
- Issacharoff: Significance of Matsushita is that “it gave judges far more latitude to examine the weight of the factual record than had previously existed.” This gave ∆’s greater incentive “to present the trial court with an ample record supporting a motion for summary judgment,” which meant that both parties were coming into summary judgment hearings with FULL TRIAL PACKAGES (no need to worry about Louis’ fear of abuse)
Anderson v. Liberty LobbyDefamation action against a newspaper, “the Court expressly invited the greater use of summary judgment as a way of forestalling the potential chilling effect on the press that ready access to juries might have”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby TakeawaysSignificance of Anderson is its holding that “under appropriate trial burdens, a nonmovant could survive a summary judgment if and only if ‘the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party’.” It also made clear that the summ j std would be the same as a directed verdict std, which “requires that a court ‘direct a verict if, under governing law, there can be but one reasonable conclusion as to the verdict’”
Markman v. WestviewHere, S.Ct affirmed a District Court 12(c) motion to dismiss on the pleadings, saying that it can determine the meaning of a term of art (usually a factual issue) as a matter of law, b/c we want to have uniformity in IP matters
- Issacharoff: significance of Markman is that it “opened up a new areaa for judicial intervention into the fact-finding process.” By giving the ct the authority to define the word “inventory,” Souter effectively left in the hands of the court the factual determination of whether the case can go forward
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly“Reinterpreted” the Conley “no set of facts” std, said π’s need to present a set of facts that plausibly support their claim in order to survive a motion to dismiss
- Issacharoff: this case was VERY disruptive, but typical Souter, since he was pragmatic. He wanted to keep the plausibility std to patents and fraud, but this is an illogical distinction and therefore didn’t hold (see Iqbal)
Ashcroft v. IqbalThe court just shouldn’t have extended Twombly plausibility stds here --> could have just said that π didn’t present enough evidence to overcome qualified immunity b/c its just a conclusory respondeat superior claim and ended there, but it didn’t. It applied Twombly, and said Iqbal hadn’t made any factually based claims against Ashcroft, and that it was more plausible that the treatment was based on an indiscriminate motive to detain aliens, not to detain Muslims
- Now that the heightened pleading plausibility std has been unleashed, we don’t know how much latitude courts really have to act as factfinders, but it seems like a lot!


Question Answer
1. Epstein (publicly available info?)Twombly right, Iqbal wrong --> when there’s publicly available info you could use to support your claim (Bell Atlantic is a public co), and you don’t use it/it goes against you, shut the case down, but when there’s private info you’ll need, all it to go forward
2. A. MillerALWAYS ALLOW DISCOVERY; these cases are horrible and undo the Fed. Rules
3. Riordanwe need something at the Rule 12 stage that looks like a 56(d) affidavit request [nonmovant can say, I need x to be able to respond to the motion, and ct can allow it]
4. G. Milleryou should be able to do phase discovery (at 12(b) stage, nonmovant can ask for a “little bit” of discovery --> whoever loses the case pays atty fees [we’re really concerned about the costs of discovery that might turn out to be worthless]